“How Canceled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, In One Chart” is a nonfiction article on Vox by Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott. This article describes the current Covid-19 pandemic and how although it may not be able to be stopped, it is still worth engaging in self-isolation and self-quarantine in order to slow down the spread of the illness. “Epidemiologists call this strategy of preventing a huge spike in cases ‘flattening the curve,'” (Barclay, 1). Barclay and Scott present a graph which shows that the number of cases can be lowered and spread out over time through measures of social distancing. Flattening the curve is very important in a pandemic such as this one because healthcare systems only have so many beds and ventilators for patients who need them. If there’s a large influx in critical Covid-19 patients at a time which is also the peak of what the authors note is a “pretty bad flu season”, hospitals may not be able to provide for all the patients who need resources.
Eliza Barclay and Dylan Scott emphasize their point to enforce social distancing to flatten the curve by using numbers from other illness outbreaks and pandemics. This shows the author that we don’t really know how bad Covid-19 can get—it could be like a bad flu outbreak or it could wipe out a large part of the population like the Spanish flu. Barclay and Dylan Scott stress that it’s on us to follow social distancing measures in order to keep hospital beds available for people who need them. The authors also use accounts from experts in the field of epidemiology to give credit to their claims. For instance, they quote Tom Frieden saying “From a US standpoint, you want to prevent any place from becoming the next Wuhan. What that means is even if we’re not able to prevent widespread transmission, we want to prevent explosive transmission and anything that overwhelms the health care system,” (Barclay, 1).
Linda Villarosa uses “chart talk”, narrative about Landrum’s personal experiences, and facts and figures about the medical structures at play in order to interweave a story about racial disparities in reproductive health. We see Villarosa’s use of “chart talk” as she describes Landrum’s experience with stillbirth, noting her blood pressure readings and specific symptoms and medications. This is an instance where we see “chart talk” as useful alongside personal descriptors in order to enhance our understanding of Landrum’s story.
We can also use Villarosa’s piece to further our understanding of Metzl and Hansen’s structural competency. As opposed to the more widely known cultural competency, structural competency is described as “the trained ability to discern how a host of issues defined clinically as symptoms, attitudes, or diseases also represent the downstream implications of a number of upstream decisions about such matters as health care and food delivery systems, zoning laws, urban and rural infrastructures, medicalization, or even about the very definitions of illness and health”. For instance, we can understand from Villarosa’s article that Landrum’s stillbirth was due to the structural racism in the hospital and medical institution as a whole which failed to recognize the symptoms of pre-eclampsia in time.
We also see the introduction of structural solutions to structural problems that Metzl and Hansen discuss in Villarosa’s article. We see the introduction of doulas and organizations which advocate for mothers of color. We also hear about Monica Simpson, who testified on behalf of black mothers in front of the UN. These are all different ways that “observing and imagining structural intervention,” as Metzl and Hansen discuss, is made a reality in application about black mother and infant mortality. Additionally, we hear about the structural inequalities in medicine from Landrum when she discusses seeing an OBGYN in the white areas of town rather than near her home.
In the third chapter of The Wounded Storyteller, Arthur Frank declares that ill people are called to tell stories about their illness whether or not they particularly want to tell those stories. Stories about illness must be told to medical professionals, families, and friends. However, those stories also can serve as a sort of road map for the ill person to renavigate what their life looks like in different health. Frank describes ill people as a “narrative wreck” as they tell their stories, and states that sometimes this jumble of words and memories can sometimes “be worse than having no story at all”. Not only is it exhausting to live with the physical side effects of illness, but it can also be equally as exhausting to have to repeat what is often asked to be a perfect recount of the illness for different people over and over again. Frank uses a candid tone to express these points through personal and general anecdotes in the first couple of pages of this chapter. Additionally, he uses the metaphor of a shipwreck in his description of illness stories told by those afflicted by the illnesses.